Sosa starts homer barrage in sweep
Long balls, Young's 200th hit highlight Rangers win over L.A.
ARLINGTON -- The day started with Sammy Sosa hitting one final home run and ended with Michael Young getting his 200th hit of the season.A ninth-inning curtain call for the Rangers All-Star shortstop punctuated the afternoon and they were able to complete their home schedule with a three-game sweep of their chief nemesis. Of course, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim might have been distracted by their playoff preparations this week after clinching the division last Sunday. But the Rangers were still able to feel good on their final afternoon at the Ballpark in Arlington after they pounded the Angels, 16-2, on Wednesday. The Rangers finished 47-34 at home, their best record at the Ballpark since they went 51-30 here in 2004. It's also their second-best record at home since the division championship seasons of 1998-99. "It was great fun out there today," Sosa said after hitting his 609th career home run in the first inning. "We played a great game and everybody contributed. We finished strong for the fans." Young finished stronger than anybody, going 3-for-5 with three singles. With the last hardy fans on their feet and roaring in the eighth inning, Young smacked a grounder up the middle that hit second base and ricocheted into left field for his 200th hit of the season. "I could tell the fans were excited but I was just trying to stay with my plan," Young said. "But for the fans to get excited like that, I definitely appreciated that. That was great." It's the fifth straight season that Young has had at least 200 hits. He is only the second middle infielder in history with at least five straight 200-hit seasons and he is only the third player since 1940 with five straight 200-hit seasons. Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer had five straight 200-hit seasons in 1933-37. Since 1940, only Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs have had at least five straight 200-hit seasons. "I recognize the company I'm in, and it means a lot," Young said. "But those are things you reflect on at the end of your career and I'm still in the middle of mine." The three-hit day left Young batting .314 for the season, pretty much assuring him of hitting over .300 for the fifth straight season. That's not bad, considering he was hitting .215 at the end of April and .257 at the end of May. "I had a tough start to the season," Young said. "But I just remembered that I got into this kind of position before by not worrying about what I had done in the past, but by bearing down on the game that night and doing what it takes to get it done." Young also had two RBIs on the afternoon. Both he and Sosa go into the final series of the season with 92 RBI, tying them for the club lead. Young, after a one-out double by Gerald Laird off Angels starter Joe Saunders, had an RBI single in the first inning to bring home the Rangers first run and then Sosa hit one into the bullpen in right-center for his 21 home run of the season. That's also the most on the Rangers. "There wasn't anybody in that dugout who was more pumped up than Sammy today," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Sosa's home run was the first of five hit by the Rangers on the afternoon. Nelson Cruz, Gerald Laird, Travis Metcalf and Hank Blalock also went deep as the Rangers scored their second highest number of runs in one game this season.
The Rangers gave starter Luis Mendoza a 6-0 lead through four but he couldn't get through the fifth to get his second Major League victory. He only gave up one hit in the fifth but walked three and hit a batter.
Two runs scored and the Angels had the bases loaded with two out when John Rheinecker came in and struck out Garret Anderson to end the threat.
"I felt good," Mendoza said. "I had one bad inning and got tired. I felt pretty good. Not a bad outing, but in the fifth, I kept throwing ball after ball and lost focus. I've been struggling in the fifth inning, just losing focus. I need to figure that out."
That was the only hiccup for the Rangers on the afternoon. They even turned two double plays to set a new single-season record of 176. That broke the club record of 175, turned in 1975.
The Rangers announced an attendance of 24,223 on Wednesday, giving them a total of 2,353,862 for the season or an average of 29,796 per game. That includes two doubleheaders over 79 home dates.The Rangers overall attendance was slightly down from the 2,391,347 that they drew in 2006 but the average daily attendance was slightly up from the 29,523 they averaged over 81 dates last year.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.